Overlapping Institutions in Trade Policy


Christina L. Davis. 2009. “Overlapping Institutions in Trade Policy.” Perspectives on Politics, 7, 1, Pp. 25-31.
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This article examines the effect of overlapping institutions in trade policy, where theWorld Trade Organization, preferential trade agreements, and other economic negotiation venues give states many options for negotiating rules and settling disputes. This article argues that overlapping institutions influence trade politics at three stages: selection of venue, negotiation of liberalization commitments, and enforcement of compliance. First, lobby groups and governments on both sides of a trade negotiation try to choose the set of rules that will favor their preferred outcome. WTO rules that restrict use of coercive tactics outside of the WTO generate a selection process that filters the most difficult trade issues into WTO trade rounds or dispute adjudication while easier issues are settled in bilateral and regional fora. This selection dynamic creates a challenge at the negotiation stage by disaggregating interest group pressure for liberalization commitments. The narrowing of interest group lobbying for the multilateral process may impede negotiation of liberalization agreements that could only gain political support through a broad coalition of exporter mobilization. At the enforcement stage international regime complexity creates the potential for contradictory legal rulings that undermine compliance, but also adds greater penalties for noncompliance if reputation effects operate across agreements.